We Won't Self-Examine, McDonald's Tells Nuns

By Elizabeth Palmberg 05-31-2011

Two weeks ago, McDonald's shareholders voted down a shareholder resolution asking the corporation to study how its advertising to children contributes to widespread childhood obesity. The resolution was sponsored by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, along with a Catholic hospital network and other institutional investors.

McDonald's position "is about the personal and individual right to choose," executive Jim Skinner told applauding shareholders, while rejecting the proposal that would have provided Americans and McDonald's shareholders additional knowledge to inform their choices.

But wait, there's still more irony: a news story points out that

Miles White, chairman and chief executive of diversified healthcare company Abbott Laboratories, has been a director of the McDonald's board since 2009.

Abbott makes a broad range of drugs, including cholesterol-lowering statins, and medical devices, such as heart stents used on patients with clogged arteries.

As I note in Sky High and Rising in this month's issue of Sojourners, U.S. health-care costs are wildly higher per person than those in Europe or Japan, and the two main reasons for this unsustainable situation are chronic disease (much of which is caused by obesity) and higher prices for each medical treatment. No one person caused these problems, obviously, but Mr. White's corporate activity is a reminder of both.

Elizabeth Palmberg is an associate editor of Sojourners.

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